Whether toying with the idea an intranet for the first time or looking into a site redesign, all roads eventually lead to one burning question: How long will it take to build a new intranet?I hate to disappoint you, but if you’ve never been through the process before, there is no standard answer. There are many variables that impact how long your deployment could take. Every organization is different. Every situation is different. There are lots of great tools like SharePoint and Office 365 that make the undertaking easier, but how long it takes will depend on your organization’s goals, resources, and process on the path to deployment.
The best way to predict how long an intranet build will take is to go through the variables that impact timeline and weigh them against the tasks that need to be done.
Are You Upgrading An Existing Site Or Deploying A New One?
Even a great intranet requires tweaks here and there. This is pretty common. Minor changes take days or up to a few weeks to complete, depending on their complexity, but these usually don’t involve heavy lifting.
Changing the fundamental architecture or creating a new site, on the other hand, is a significant effort that requires more planning and resources.
Are You Partnering With An Experienced Intranet Consulting Firm?
This will affect your timeline more then anything else. If you are managing the project in-house you’ll have total control over the entire implementation – including branding options, architecture and features – but prepare to spend a substantial amount of time in development. You’ll also need a lot of attention from IT, whose involvement will continue long after deployment.
Sometimes outsourcing the project makes more sense. An experienced consulting firm will not only save you time and resources, they also provide ongoing support so you won’t have to worry about fixing bugs or making changes as your platform grows. These firms, like ours, offer project management, business analysis, development and graphic design services, which will make your deployment go much smoother. They also know the intimate details of the process and will keep you from making mistakes or omissions you might regret later.
How Big Is Your Project Scope?
The project scope is driven by many factors and sorting through them can be overwhelming at first. The key is to uncover the operational challenges facing your organization and document how your intranet will solve them; basically you need to write a "business case.” Start with the following:
- Employee needs – When you are in the research phase it’s best not to make any assumptions. Interview employees from every department and find out what hurdles they face. You should have a clear picture of how departments communicate and work together now, and where improvements need to be made.
- Document management – How many documents will you need to migrate to the new platform? Smaller companies might have only a few, compared to multi-national corporations that have millions of documents. Make a note of how people access resources now, like benefits information or training materials, and how frequently are those pieces are updated. For example, how does HR manage important company documents like benefits, health and 401k information?
- Company news – Every organization has communication challenges, especially those with multiple locations. If language barriers exist as well, communication may be even more difficult. You'll want a newsfeed that can be accessed by all employees, specific departments, and/or different individuals within the company, keeping everyone informed of important announcements they would otherwise miss.
- Branding and customization – Never underestimate the importance of user experience. Creating the right interface for your portal involves mirroring, to some degree, the tools and platforms people already use (like social media) while also folding in the company brand identity wherever appropriate.
Where Will Your Intranet Be Hosted?
If you are creating a cloud-hosted intranet it will be a time-saver. SharePoint and Office 365 offer fast, easy integration that could take as little as a few minutes to set up. If you are hosting the site on a local server though, there’s more effort involved. You may face some compatibility and configuration issues that will need addressing as well.
How Long Will The Planning and Development Take?
Planning is as critical to a successful intranet deployment as page design and content migration, so it’s important to budget the time to do it right. If you are following best practices, your deployment process will look something like this:
- Interview staff and stakeholders about departmental needs
- Finalize objectives and overall business goals the intranet will solve
- Determine information architecture
- Collect assets and content
- Design templates for the pages
- Migrate the content
- Deploy and test the platform
- Transition processes to the working platform
- Continue to fix bugs and make improvements on an ongoing basis
The steps outlined above can be time consuming or quick and easy. The best way forward is to develop a plan based on the answers to the questions above and assign a range of time to complete each task.
Our search based Accelerated Intranet can roll out in as little as 4 to 6 weeks, if the client is well prepared and ready to move fast. That’s a lightening quick deployment, but it can work, depending on the size and scope of the project. Just make sure you budget time for testing and ongoing optimization. Your intranet should have room to grow and evolve, just like your company, and if it does, then your time was well spent.